ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 9/8/09
With us today, we've got Scott Cummins, who directed the Starship: Exeter episode, "The Tressaurian Intersection." Now, there's a zillion different Star Trek fan films out there, but I admit I've always had a special fascination for Exeter, and I've always wanted to know more about it. Scott, thank you very much for agreeing to speak with us today!
SCOTT CUMMINS: Thanks. I'm very proud of the show and I'm glad people have enjoyed it.
REPUBLIBOT 3.0: First off, Scott, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you, and what's your day job?
SCOTT: I live in Portland, Oregon where I make a living managing a department responsible for about 40% of a small business' revenue. That pays the cat's mortgage and maybe a few things for myself. My Big Expensive Hobby is in filmmaking, and I've done several projects throughout the years that lead up to 'Exeter' and beyond. Maybe one day, my hobby will turn to paying the bills, but I haven't had that pleasure yet. Beyond that, I'm just another American forging ahead and enjoying the simple life of friends, family, outdoor adventures and miscellaneous geekery (you've gotta be a little geeky to partake in something like Exeter, after all.)
3.0: For me, personally, when I saw "The Savage Empire" for the first time in 2002, I felt like it scratched an itch that I hadn't realized was nagging at me. All this modern Trek stuff - the prequels and sequels - that was fine, but what I really wanted without knowing it was more TOS, episodes I hadn't seen a zillion times over. Like I said, there's eleventy-jillion Trek fan film projects out there now, and some of them are even pretty good, but Starship: Exeter was one of the first *and* as far as I know, it was the first TOS-era fanfilm, the first one to actually commit to the idea of doing a 1960s-format episode. Despite some obvious problems with the first episode, I was blown away by it. Now, I understand the first episode was before you came on board with the project, but can you tell us anything about the genesis of the whole thing? How it came together initially?
SCOTT: I know exactly what you mean by "scratching an itch." I believe you're correct in that it was the first TOS-era fan-film, at least one that became almost a "cult-hit" online. There have been other films out there--one from the 70s that I saw recently, and another that's become relatively famous from the 80s, but they never really were as big of a "hit" as Exeter seemed to become. Most of the past stuff were parodies rather than actual attempts at making something serious, so Exeter has the honor of being one of the first outside of that, as well. That's not to say there wasn't other stuff out there. "Hidden Frontier" is one example that was being done before Exeter came along, and I'm sure there are a few others, but Exeter was the first that had practical standing sets and made an effort to be somewhat mature about what they were trying to do with production values and shooting style. Basically, as I understand it, the brothers-Johnson, Josh and Jimm, wrote and produced most of "Savage Empire" when they both lived in Minneapolis. Eventually, Jimm moved to Austin, Texas, where he met a gentleman named Joel Sarchet, who convinced him to finish the show and even spice things up a bit. Joel participated in producing an enhanced version of the fight between the characters of Captain Garrovick and Chang (parts of that fight were shot in Minneapolis and other parts in Austin). Jimm finally finished his edit, and it was released online in December 2002, after having caught a little bit of attention with various "teasers" that he had posted to the website prior. But when news of its release hit a website called "Slashdot," it exploded. The videos were hosted on apple.com's public servers at that time, and there was so much traffic that Apple eventually shut it down. Jimm got it back online, hosted by a very nice Exeter fan (still hosting the videos today even when there are other options like YouTube out there), and its popularity just continued to grow. Eventually, they decided to do another show because of the response.
3.0: How did you first get involved with Starship: Exeter?
SCOTT: After they announced that they were going